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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Hartwick – Financial Condition (2013M-118)


Released: September 6, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to ensure that the Board properly monitored the Town’s financial operations for the period January 1, 2012, to March 8, 2013.

Background

The Town of Hartwick is located in Otsego County and has 2,110 residents. The Board comprises four elected Board members and the elected Town Supervisor who governs the Town. The Town’s budgeted appropriations for the 2013 fiscal year are $657,386 for the general fund, $755,306 for the highway fund, $155,794 for the water fund, $146,016 for the fire protection fund, $58,002 for the library fund, and $6,000 for the lighting district fund.

Key Findings

  • The Board did not establish reasonable financial plans for three of its major operating funds but repeatedly relied on transfers from the general fund and appropriations of fund balance to finance operations in the highway and fire protection funds.
  • Although Town officials accounted for these three funds individually, they maintained a consolidated checking account for the combined funds and paid for large purchases without verifying that the fund balance was actually available. As a result, the financial condition of the three funds deteriorated significantly over the past four years.
  • While the Town’s overall tax levy for the general, highway, fire protection, library, lighting district, and water funds was relatively steady over the past four years, the general and highway funds’ budgeted tax fluctuated significantly and failed to consistently fund operations.

Key Recommendations

  • Manage each fund’s operations separately, with sufficient revenues included in the budget for each fund.
  • Consider separate checking accounts for each operating fund or require a monthly report of cash balances by fund which accounts for the balance in the combined account. The Board and Town officials should ensure that the financial records are accurate and up to date, and should request and review monthly budget status reports.
  • Consider long-term trends and needs when preparing budget estimates. Non-routine purchases, such as highway equipment purchases, should be specifically provided for in the budget.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236